The radiation hazards of lasers are described in standard EN 60825-1. Originally EN 60825-1 (issue 1994) also covered LEDs, but after the introduction of EN 62471 in 2008, the 2007 issue of EN 60825-1 no longer included LEDs.
So since September 2011 the requirements for lasers are stated in EN 60825-1; and the safety requirements for LEDs in EN 62471.
EN 62471 gives guidance for evaluating the photo-biological safety of lamps including LEDs but excluding lasers. It specifies the exposure limits, test methods and classification. Besides the thermal hazard (retinal burn) it also describes other risks such as the blue light hazard (BLH). Damage can be caused to the eye and the skin. The classification has four groups: Exempt group (no hazard), Risk Group 1 (Low- Risk), Risk Group 2 (Moderate-Risk) and Risk Group 3 (High-Risk).
The 2014 version of EN 60825-1 provides details of the labelling that is required for lasers. The label is dependent on the classification:
Class 1: this class is eye-safe under all operating conditions.
Class 1M: safe for viewing directly with the naked eye, but may be hazardous to view with the aid of optical instruments.
Class 2: safe for accidental viewing under all operating conditions. However, it may not be safe for a person who deliberately stares into the visible laser beam for longer than 0,25 seconds.
Class 2M: safe for accidental viewing with the naked eye, as long as the natural aversion response is not overcome as with Class 2, but may be hazardous (even for accidental viewing) when viewed with the aid of optical instruments, as with class 1M.
Class 3R: Radiation in this class is considered low risk, but potentially hazardous. The limit for Class 3R is five times the limit for Class 1 (invisible radiation) or Class 2 (visible radiation). Continuous wave visible lasers emitting between 1 and 5 mW are normally Class 3R.
Class 3B: Radiation in this class is very likely to be dangerous. For a continuous wave laser the maximum output into the eye must not exceed 500mW. The radiation can be a hazard to the eye or skin. However, viewing of the diffuse reflection is safe.
Class 4: This is the highest class of laser radiation. Radiation in this class is very dangerous, and viewing of the diffuse reflection may be dangerous. Class 4 laser beams are capable of setting fire to materials onto which they are projected.
For electrical toys the safety requirements are mentioned in EN 62115. For electric toys that have lasers or LEDs, Annex E of EN 62115 states the following:
“Toys shall not emit harmful radiation. Lasers and LEDs in toys shall meet the requirements for Class 1 lasers in accordance with EN 60825-1”.
For LEDs EN 62115 does not refer to EN 62471 but to EN 60825-1; so the labelling requirements of EN 60825-1 still apply to electrical toys with LEDs.
Chapter 1 of EN 60825-1 states that laser products are exempt from all requirements of EN 60825-1, including labelling, if the emission level does not exceed the AEL (accessible emission limit) of Class 1 under all conditions of operation, maintenance, service and failure. Such a laser product may be referred to as an exempt laser product.
And the background information in EN 62115 states: “by meeting the requirements of a class 1 device of EN 60825-1:1994, LEDs and lasers are considered to be safe under all viewing conditions”.
Concluding: LEDs and lasers that comply with the Class 1 emission levels under all conditions are exempt from the labelling requirements of EN 60825-1, also for toys.
On 5 February 2014 an EU Decision was published about the safety requirements for lasers in consumer products within the framework of the General Product Safety Directive 2001/95/EC. It differentiates between common consumer laser products and child appealing consumer laser products.